- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

Shareholders and the public have been inundated with advertising from Hewlett-Packard and Compaq promoting a proposed $22 billion merger of the two technology giants, as well as advertising from the dissenters of the deal.
The two companies are in favor of the planned merger, while a group, led by Walter Hewlett, son of one of H-P's co-founders, is adamantly opposed to it.
As a result all three players have been battling it out with a heavy ad blitz to get shareholders to vote in their favor.
Mr. Hewlett has been on a crusade to stop the merger and has reportedly spent millions of dollars to let shareholders know through letters, public relations and advertising that this merger would devalue the company's stock and weaken the company as a whole.
Hewlett-Packard and Compaq also spending millions of dollars have geared their advertising toward the good things that will come out of the deal and how it will increase shareholder value.
Mr. Hewlett is "waging a campaign against an event: the merger," says Catherine Bartholow, president of RTC Relationship Marketing in the District. While H-P's advertising is "already starting to build a story about the branding of these two companies," she says.
Last week shareholders continued to get a flood of letters and phone calls and turn to full-page newspaper ads from all three players in a last-ditch effort to get their point across. It all comes down to the Hewlett-Packard vote tomorrow in Cupertino, Calif., and the Compaq vote on Wednesday.
But how much is too much? The point of using public relations and advertising methods is to effectively communicate their views so using these many venues is a good idea, Ms. Bartholow says.
"Different people absorb information in different ways," she says.
An ad blitz of this magnitude isn't uncommon for a deal like this. It may remind some of a similar battle last summer between First Union and SunTrust, which were both trying to merge with Wachovia.
The two banks waged a war in the media, also spending millions, to get shareholders to vote their way. Ultimately the merger between First Union and Wachovia was approved.

Marriott march madness
Marriott International Inc. kicked off a new advertising campaign last week with a bit of a sports flare just in time for college basketball.
Marriott scored four celebrity coaches to star in the spots: Jon Gruden, newly appointed head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Phil Jackson, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and former coach of the Chicago Bulls; Mike Ditka, NFL commentator and former head coach of the Chicago Bears and Lou Holtz, head football coach for the University of South Carolina and former head coach of Notre Dame.
The four spots, which promote Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott and Fairfield Inn by Marriott, will run for the next six months, coupled with a print-ad component. This campaign also marks the first time the hotel giant features its Marriott Rewards frequent-travel program in a television ad.

New wins
The Go RVing Coalition, which represents the recreational-vehicle industry, has selected the Richards Group of Dallas to handle the $38 million to $40 million three-year advertising campaign. The Richards Group beat out local contenders the Martin Agency in Richmond and Baltimore's Eisner Communications, which was the incumbent agency.
E. James White has been selected as advertising agency of record for CDWG, which provides direct computing solutions to educational institutions and government agencies. The Herndon-based agency will build the company's brand awareness among federal, state and local governments and the eductional community.
Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884 or at [email protected] Advertising & Marketing runs every other week.

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